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Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Canada

BC posts $1.4M in fines to unlicensed pot shops

The Herb Co. was fined $157,000 for selling cannabis without a retail store licence

BC issues $1.4M in penalties to illicit pot shops
Photo by Gary via Google Maps

A handful of penalties issued by British Columbia’s cannabis enforcement squad have been made public so far, totalling more than $1.4 million to pot shops operating without a licence.

Since it began enforcing cannabis laws, the province’s Community Safety Unit has seized nearly $25 million in cannabis from illicit sellers, and issued 39 notices of administrative monetary penalties, according to the province.

Five notices have been made public, with penalties ranging from more than $12,000 to nearly $800,000. While the public notices have been published in recent months, the orders were issued in 2019.

Read more: BC launching ‘buy legal’ ad campaign to support licit cannabis industry

In each instance, those accused have signed a waiver, admitting to the violation in the notice of administrative monetary penalty and agreeing to pay the penalty that’s equal to the retail value of cannabis sold, possessed to sell or produced in contravention to cannabis laws.

In the latest order issued, dated Nov. 18, Vancouver-based the Herb Co. was given a fine of $156,785 for selling cannabis without a retail store licence for about five months in 2019.

Four other places were penalized for the same reason:

  • A Kamloops store that has been known as Da Kine Weed Glass and Gift, Weeds Glass and Gifts, Weeds and Boomer’s Bud, agreed to pay $65,716;
  • 99 North Enterprises Ltd., in Squamish, agreed to pay $444,027;
  • Ocean Grown Medicinal Society, in Victoria, agreed to pay $12,042; and
  • Trees of Eden Island Grown, in Victoria, accepted the highest penalty so far of $771,558.

99 North now operates with a licence in Squamish.

BC focuses on weed enforcement as illegal market shrinks

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the CSU is focused on enforcing cannabis laws. Image via Province of British Columbia flickr

If a person doesn’t sign the waiver in response to the NAMP, an administrative hearing is held and a compliance order could be issued, which imposes a penalty that’s worth double the retail value of cannabis sold, possessed to sell or produced in contravention to cannabis laws.

Read more: BC focuses on cannabis enforcement as illicit market shrinks

The province has told Mugglehead the orders are generally posted following the conclusion of proceedings. The first ones were published in August.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has said the CSU has moved beyond an educational approach, and is focused on enforcing cannabis laws.

When speaking about illicit enforcement in July, Farnworth indicated the number of illegal stores has been dropping in the years since legalization. In the summer, he estimated there are between 50 and 75 illegal storefronts, down from roughly 300–400 before weed was legalized for recreational use in 2018.

B.C. currently has around 360 licensed pot shops.

Read more: Testing pilot finds multiple contaminants in illicit BC bud 

 

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